Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rocksmith Song Review: Under Cover of Darkness

A Challenging Song to Learn

This song came up as the last song on my most recent event (Event 48) setlist with a minimum qualifying score (MQS) of 68,500. After several attempts, I let RS reduce the MQS to something within reach - 53,487, and I finally qualified the song for Event 48 after some intense work in Riff Repeater. 

On my unscientific "hardness" scale, Under Cover of Darkness ranks as "Hard" with a 2.4. By the calculation I used to rank songs, this one is one of the hardest songs on RS. I'm sure there are harder songs, but I'm willing to bet that even experienced guitar players would find this song at least somewhat challenging.

This song has been really tricky for me to learn - and I'm nowhere close to mastering it. For starters, the tempo is moderately quick. I'd say it bops along in the range of 118 beats per minute in cut time, which is just a touch under two beats per second - BUT it feels and plays like 4 beats per second or 240 bpm. Not blazing fast, but very quick considering the number of notes and the fact that you're covering almost the entire neck of the guitar - from the 2d fret to the 19th fret.

These RS song reviews aren't about whether I like a song, but obviously it's easier to practice a song that you like. This song is not my favorite, but it's not bad. (Unlike, Unnatural Selection which I never liked and is about 15 minutes long. . . ) Under Cover of Darkness is a good challenge, fun to play and not bad for a new era pop song.


Riff - Verse - Verse - Chorus - Post-Chorus /
Riff - Verse - Chorus - Post-Chorus /
Solo - Solo - Chorus - Post-Chorus /
Riff (partial).

Basically, the same thing three times and end with part of the riff. The first time through you do the verse twice. The third time through you have a solo in place of the Riff and Verse. Pretty straightforward.


The riff on this song is more like a little solo than a riff. Solos are not my strong suit, but it's not too hard. Fortunately, it repeats partially at the end without any changes, so once you learn the riff you know at least three phrases of the song. It jumps from Bm and C#m chords on the 11th and 12th frets to single notes around the 15-19th frets which is a quick change at this tempo. There's also a handful of double-stops thrown in. The C#m chord change and jump from double-stops to the C#m is the hardest part for me.


The verse is catchy and fun to play, but it's FAST. It's basically a little riff that you play in three different positions on the neck. The first position (around the 7th fret) is pretty easy to master. After that, you need some pretty good finger stretch - or you'll be doing some serious hopping from fret to fret with your left hand. The third position is particularly challenging since you're jumping (quickly) from the 2d to the 6th fret. Only 4 frets, but it's up by the nut where the frets are furthest apart.


The chorus on this song is not as hard as Rocksmith makes it look. It's really just two little 3-string chords - a B and an E that you strum-pick.

When you first play the song, the RSNH (Rocksmith Note Highway) just shows single notes, but when you level up to a certain point the Dynamic Leveling throws these double-stops at you. That really threw me off. Relax. It's not as bad as it looks!

Just realize that you're strumming the 2d and 3d strings and picking the 1st string of these two chords:

Solo - Finally, A Break!

Ironically, the solo on this song is the only part I've mastered so far! There's not a lot to it. It took me a few runs through Riff Repeater to nail it, but it's easier than the other phrases. It's all single notes with one little slide part on the 1st string. Other than the slide, there's no fancy technique required. Just play the notes.

Strategy for Learning

Accelerator mode in Riff Repeater has been the key to learning this song for me. Trying to level up by playing through the whole song was out of the question and using the Leveler was no help. The only way I've been able to make any progress on this song is by using Accelerator and forcing the mastery to 100%. Then I just work each complete phrase - fully leveled - at a comfortable tempo in Accelerator until I can play it at full speed. When I make some progress in Accelerator, I play through the song again. Rinse and repeat.

Like I said, the solo is the only phrase I've mastered so far. But, I definitely believe this is a song where the dynamic leveling in RS does not help you learn the song. You've got to see ALL the notes and just grind through them slowly until you learn each phrase and then put them all together in Rehearsal mode.

This is what has worked for me. I'm open to any other tips or suggestions! As always, feel free to comment.

Update - 4/10

Last night I worked the Riff, Verse and Chorus in Accelerator. 60x for the Riff and 30x each for the verse and chorus. Then I played through the song and scored a 61,500+. My all time high score on this one. So far. That's well above my MQS for this event so I'm considering just playing the event and coming back to this one later. Or, should I continue working it at least until I get the Real Tone?


  1. The game wants me to score 70,000 on this for the event and this is sooo harddd. I can only get about 63,000. Time to use the accelerator a ton of times... Those double stops on the B and E strings they throw in there all of a sudden confused me also. Thanks for the tip.

    1. It's a tough song to nail! No doubt about it. Glad my ideas helped. Let me know when you get it qualified for the event and how you do it.

  2. So, will you be picking up RS2014? :-)

    1. Absolutely! Can't wait to try it out. I'll write it up as soon as I get it. In fact, if Ubi wants to send me an advance copy. . . I'd be more than happy to review it!

      (As long they don't make it so it only plays on the new XBox One. . . I'm definitely NOT picking one of those up.)